Game: Walton (4-4, 2-1) at Harrison (2-4, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.
Last meeting: Walton 37, Harrison 28 (Nov. 23, 2007)
All-time series: Walton leads 3-2
Prediction: Walton 24, Harrison 17
Despite all the 2020 hiccups, Walton would not be where in the position they are now without the services of defensive back AJ Brown and linebacker Eric Zeiher.
It will be up to the duo and their teammates to step up this week in a road game tonight against Harrison at Bruce Cobleigh Field. After the adversity Walton had gone through earlier this season — the Raiders lost three straight non-region games after leading in the fourth quarter — a win over the Hoyas would assure them the No. 2 seed out of Region 3AAAAAAA and at least one home playoff game.
Walton will be going up against a Harrison team that seems to be finding its niche.
The Hoyas have won two straight region games over North Paulding and Marietta after losing its first three of the year before going into hiatus for over a month due to COVID-19 concerns.
A Harrison victory would go a long way in securing that No. 2 spot, but it would likely have to beat Hillgrove next week to avoid a possible three-way tiebreaker with the Raiders and Hawks.
“We’re going to see a talented team,” Walton coach Daniel Brunner said. “They have some wind on their sails, and it will be a physical ball game. Friday becomes a big deal for both of our programs.”
Walton’s success could come down to the consistent performances of Zeiher and Brown.
Brown, who has gotten an offer from Boston College, currently leads Walton with 65 tackles. He also has three tackles for loss, one interception and two caused fumbles. His latest effort was 22 tackles in Walton’s 21-14 win over North Paulding with 17 of them being solo.
Zeiher, known as the quarterback inside the box, is not far behind Brown with 59 stops on the year with nine coming against North Paulding.
“(Brown’s) leadership is everything you want in a football player,” Brunner said. “He’s a hammer. He can do a little of everything. He can play in the box, and he’s a great tackler.
“(Zeiher) has been the captain of our box and a mainstay for us the last two years. He’s had more experience than some of the other guys around him and has helped with some high scoring offenses.”
Although Harrison took an hit to graduation following its championship, the Hoyas are still relying on veteran running back Jay Ziglor and receiver Marques Owens to lead the way.
They could make for an interesting matchup against Brown and Zeiher.
Ziglor, who has assumed the role as running back in place of David Roberts, has 552 rushing yards on 93 carries and eight touchdowns.
Although Harrison hasn’t thrown the ball as much this season, Owens is still a threat. He has 15 receptions for 220 receiving yards and a touchdown.